Sport - Golf - Eila Galitsky
Eila Galitsky of Thailand holds a three shot lead heading into the final round of the Women's Amateur Asia-Pacific championship in Singapore Image Credit: The R&A

Thailand’s Eila Galitsky grabbed a commanding three-shot lead going into the final round of the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific (WAAP) championship, raising hopes of following in the footsteps of compatriot Atthaya Thitikul, who won the inaugural championship, also held in Singapore in 2018.

In Saturday’s third round at Singapore Island Country Club, 16-year-old Galitsky closed with a thrilling birdie from the edge of the water to finish on two-under-par 70. That gave her a three-round total of ten-under-par 206, three ahead of the second-placed Minsol Kim of Korea.

Kim and Galitsky were involved in a one-on-one battle in the lead group, until the World Amateur Golf Ranking® (WAGR) number 14 made an uncharacteristic bogey on the par-5 12th, and then followed it up with a double bogey on the par-4 15th. A birdie on the 18th brought back the smile on Kim’s face.

Japan’s Yuna Araki, the second-highest ranked player in the championship at number five, showed her class with three birdies in three holes on either half of the golf course, but it was sandwiched between bogeys on the 1st and 18th holes as she moved to third place after a four-under-par 68 round.

Sport - Golf - Yuna Araki
Yuna Araki of Japan recorded the best round of the day to be third heading into the final round of the Women's Amateur Asia-Pacific championship in Singapore Image Credit: The R&A

The best round of the day was a six-under-par 66 from Korea’s 16-year-old Kyorim Seo. Making her debut in WAAP, she was bogey-free with six birdies, including two in the last two holes. That helped her jump to tied fourth place at five-under-par 211 total alongside New Zealand’s Fiona Xu (71), China’s Tong An (72) and Sophie Han (75) of Hong Kong, China.

Singapore’s Aloysa Margiela Atienza turned a disappointing day into an unforgettable one when she made the only hole-in-one of the championship so far. The 24-year-old local star holed her 8-iron shot on the par-3 6th hole from 149 yards, after making eight bogeys in the 16 holes before that.

Galitsky, who holds dual nationality of Thailand and Canada, hit a 4-iron second shot into the 18th that flirted with the water hazard on the left. With almost no stance, she managed to putt from the fringe to ten feet and made the putt that helped her finish double digits under-par. She had earlier made a monster putt from nearly 35 feet on the 11th hole.

“Of course, I am aware that Atthaya won the championship here in Singapore, but let’s not jinx anything,” said Galitsky, who, like Thitikul famously did at the inaugural championship, broke into a song when things were not going her way early in the round.

“I wasn’t playing as well as I did yesterday, but I was very happy with the way I hit the driver, especially in the stretch from the 12th hole onwards. That was when I thought I was getting an upper hand against Minsol, because she seemed to be struggling a bit towards the end.

“I have led a few Thai events going into the final round, but nothing of this stature. I am very excited about the final round and looking forward to it.”

Kim (73) made birdies on her first two holes, but could not maintain the hot start and her only other birdie came on the 18th hole. In between, she made two bogeys and the double on the 15th.

“Compared to the previous two rounds, I was a little bit disappointed. Today’s start was good, but the first bogey I made was my mistake and I was really disappointed with that. After that my rhythm wasn't really what I wanted. I gave myself a few chances on back nine but I missed them,” said the 15-year-old.

“But I am happy that I managed to make a birdie on the 18th hole. I am just three shots behind, and I think it is going to be a very interesting final round.”

Atienza said by the time she reached the par-3 8th hole, which was her 17th after starting from the 10th tee, she did not want to use her putter anymore.

“I just could not make any putts throughout the day and I did not want to use my putter anymore. And then, I hit the tee shot on the 8th exactly how and where I wanted to hit it. It is my first hole-in-one in a championship round, so very happy about that. That was one way of making sure I did not have to make a putt on that hole.”

Chinese Taipei’s Ting-Hsuan Huang, the defending champion, shot an even-par 72 to be tied 13th at two-under total, while Japan’s Rin Yoshida, the highest-ranked player in the field at number four, shot an even-par 72 to be tied for 24th place at two-over-par 218.

Yujie Liu, the 12-year-old from China who is the youngest participant in the championship, scored her second sub-par round in three days – a one-under-par 71 elevating her to tied 24th alongside Yoshida.